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EDITORIAL – FALL 2008 – VOL. 2 NO. 28

Reiner, have you met Henry?

 

By now, everyone who cares about gaming awards knows that Reiner Knizia has won the Spiel des Jahres for Keltis, a re-working of his two player Lost Cities game. It is a long overdue honor for Knizia, a game designer of many outstanding games. This situation reminded me of another one where the parallels are striking.

I was thinking of a great actor of the silver screen. This actor received many well deserved accolades in his time as he created many memorable characters in powerful performances throughout his long career. He was Tom Joad in the film adaptation of the Nobel prize winning novel by John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath. A powerful performance but no Oscar. He portrayed the title character Mr. Roberts in the film of the same name but again, no Oscar. He was nominated but did not win an Academy Award as the lone hold-out juror in 12 Angry Men. The oversight was noted and he received an Honorary Award for his impressive body of work. But only a year later, when, in poor health, he completed a starring turn in On Golden Pond, that excellent performance (this actor couldn’t help but give excellent performances) netted a long deserved Academy Award for Henry Fonda.

Kniza has had a bunch of SdJ nominations worthy of the honor including such fare as Euphrat & Tigris aka Tigris & Euphrates (featured in the Spring 1998 issue of GA REPORT), Blue Moon City (Summer 2006 GA REPORT) and Einfach Genial (better known on this side of the Atlantic as Ingenious and featured in the Summer 2004 GA REPORT). A win is a win is a win. But of all the remarkable games in his portfolio, it is mildly surprising that Keltis brings home the prize. Sure, the game has received some respect, coming in eighth place in the voting for this year’s DSP (German Game Awards) and it has a solid pedigree as this multi-layer design has roots in Knizia’s wonderful two player Lost Cities game (featured way back in the Summer 1999 issue of Gamers Alliance Report and “flashbacked” in this issue). But while a decent and solid game, this game is not on the same level, at least in my opinion, as some of Knizia’s previous nominees. I congratulate Reiner Knizia on receiving the award and I applaud the SdJ jury for acknowledging a designer long overdue for such recognition. At the same time, I have to marvel at the inexplicable workings of the SdJ jury and wonder what took so long?

In this issue of Gamers Alliance Report, we mark the start of our 23rd consecutive year by taking a closer look at this year’s SdJ winner as well as a few that made it to the “short list”, battle in ancient Japan, trade goods in ancient Egypt and in Marrakech and say anything for a good time! Meanwhile, Joe Huber does some mining, Pevans visits a monastery, Chris Kovac is conflicted and Kban gets lost in a “flashack”. And, of course, much more!

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

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Fall 2008 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy BLOX (Ravensburger, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; about $40) In our modern urban world, the rise and destruction of skyscrapers is an ongoing process akin to the heartbeat of great metropolises. This urban pulse has been transferred to an abstract game from a trio of designers: Wolfgang Kramer, Hans Raggan and Jurgen P. Grunau. The game is Blox ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac CONFLICT OF HEROES (Elfinwerks/Academy Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-180 minutes; $75) Conflict of Heroes is a squad level wargame designed by Uwe Eickert depicting the epic battles between Germany and Russia on the Russian front between 194-1942. This game emphasizes speed and game play over level of detail and, for the most part, succeeds. The big advantage is ...
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Reiner, have you met Henry? By now, everyone who cares about gaming awards knows that Reiner Knizia has won the Spiel des Jahres for Keltis, a re-working of his two player Lost Cities game. It is a long overdue honor for Knizia, a game designer of many outstanding games. This situation reminded me of another one where the parallels are striking. I was thinking of ...
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(In this issue, we feature Keltis, this year's winner of the Spiel des Jahres, and a re-working of Lost Cities, the popular two player card game from the prolific designer Reiner Knizia. still in print and available So we thought a quick look at the inspiration for his SdJ winner was in order. So here, from the Summer 1999 issue of Gamers Alliance Report, ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy KELTIS (Kosmos, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; about $40) Reiner Knizia's Lost Cities, published nearly ten years ago (featured in GA REPORT back then and "flashbacked" this issue), is one of the most popular two player games from this prolific designer. So much so, that there had always been an undercurrent of support for a four player version ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy MARRAKECH (Gigamic/Fundex Games, 2-4 players, ages 6 and up, 10-20 minutes; $39.95) Against the exotic background of a marketplace in Morocco, Marrakech, by Dominique Ehrhard, puts players into the roles of competing carpet sellers with a dual goal: have the most rugs visible in Marrakech square and, of course, collect as much money as possible along the way. The square box ...
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Reviewed by Pevans MONASTERY (Ragnar Brothers, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-90 minutes; $52.99) The Ragnar Brothers have a track record of excellent historical games, but they’re usually on a grander scale than this. Monastery has the players developing a medieval monastery. The monastery starts with the abbey church and the players each have one monk (pawn) in the church. They also start with ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy NEFERTITI (Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 45 minutes; $49.95) Mel Brooks once said, "It's good to be king". And, in Nefertiti, the new game by Jacques Bariot, Thomas Cauet and Guillaume Montiage, you can see why. King Akhanaton has flexed his royal muscles and commanded members of the Egyptian nobility to bring rare and precious gifts to ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy PARASITES UNLEASHED (Zygote Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $9.95) The world of creepy crawlie critters has a new representative in Parasites Unleashed, a colorful and light game about these denizens of the animal world and their life cycles. Parasites Unleashed, designed by James L. Cambias, comes in a small box to hold its deck of 55 cards ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy SAY ANYTHING (North Star Games, 3 to 8 players, ages 13 and up, about 35 minutes; $24.99) Ever since Trivial Pursuit exploded onto the scene, people have been convinced that a great adult party game will earn them millions. The potential is there, sure, and people have risen to that challenge. But the real challenge is to come up ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy SENJI (Asmodee, 3-6 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $69.99) All games offer something to the interested gamer. Sometimes a game will offer you a chance to flex your diplomatic abilities. Maybe you yearn to flex your muscles in a simulated conflict. Perhaps card play is what you seek. It is rare when a game has ALL of these elements ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy TIKI TOPPLE (Gamewright Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95) According to legend (as told by the good folks at Gamewright), tikis are carved statues representing supernatural and sacred forces in some Polynesian cultures. Taking that as his cue, Keith Meyers has come up with Tiki Topple, a charming game where players maneuver nine carved tikis to score ...
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Reviewed by Joe Huber TINNERS' TRAIL (Treefrog, 3-4 players, ages 13 and up, 60-90 minutes; about $75) For some years now, Martin Wallace has been known for his gamer-friendly designs. While Age of Steam (Winter 2003 GA REPORT) stands out as his most popular design, many of his other designs such as Princes of the Renaissance (Winter 2004 GA REPORT) have gained their own followings ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy VINETA (Immortal Eyes Games/Winning Moves, 2-6 players, ages teen to adult, 30 + minutes; $30.95) If stormy weather looms outside your window with rain pounding on the roof like it's the end of the world, you might be able to better empathize with the inhabitants of the Nordic city of Vineta. These unlucky denizens of the "Atlantis of the North" are ...
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